Today Microsoft celebrates the International Mother Language Day alongside UNESCO, with the goal to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism across the world. Advancements in technology to support and preserve languages create greater awareness of the linguistic and cultural traditions celebrated throughout the world, which in turn promote understanding,tolerance and dialogue.
With the proliferation of digital content on the web, mobile devices and desktop applications, there is an increasing demand to communicate and collaborate in multiple languages. Helping enable business, communities, and consumers to communicate and collaborate across language barriers through technology innovation is a core focus for the Microsoft Translator team.
Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of two new officially supported languages: Malay and Urdu. These two languages join the other languages already supported by the Microsoft Translator platform and Bing Translator. Malay is spoken by over 200M people worldwide in countries ranging from Malaysia to Brunei. Urdu is spoken by over 100M people worldwide and is spoken by large populations residing in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and countries in Europe and North America. It is the national language of Pakistan, and the official language of several states in India.
A year ago, on the last International Mother Language Day, we announced the release of Hmong as part of a close engagement between Microsoft and the Hmong community - a small but significant step towards empowering businesses and organizations to tap into the power of Microsoft’s language technology. Like Hmong, the development of Urdu is the result of a community effort shepherded by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India) under the leadership of Dr.Girish Nath Jha, and Microsoft, utilizing the powerful Microsoft Translator Hub customization tools.
In addition to the launch of these new languages; we are also rolling out several new improvements to our platform, customization tools and language quality. See the release notes for this release in our forum here.
We have seen some great momentum with both the business and language communities for the Translator Hub. Through the Hub, users are able to bring better and specialized translation quality to established languages, as well as the many native languages of the world that are not yet supported by major translation providers which goes to the core of supporting the goals of Mother Language Day. Urdu is the latest language community benefiting from the availability of the Hub.
Developers and webmasters can begin leveraging these languages today on their sites by installing the Microsoft Translator Widget and users can utilize the collaborative features of the widget to provide alternate translations to improve the translation quality. Additionally, if you are passionate about the community development efforts around Urdu or other languages that we support and want to become involved in the efforts, please contact us.
Commemorating the International Mother Language Day, Microsoft Local Language Program (LLP), also announced the support of 13 extra languages to our range of Language Interface Packs (LIPs), bringing the total number of languages supported by Windows 8 and Office to 108. Learn more at the LLP web site.
- Vikram Dendi, Director of Product Management, Microsoft/Bing Translator
Team: Localization Tools and Services Solution: Readiness, Internal Communications, Customer Support The Localization Tools and Services team provides translation and localization services to a wide variety of business units throughout Microsoft. Focusing mainly on the localization of software user interfaces, they have localized software ranging from Universal Store apps to Microsoft OneDrive to Windows Azure. In order to provide faster turnaround for the business units they support, the team created an online agile localization application known as Reach. Reach allows translators and testers to localize content more quickly and with greater accuracy than with human translation alone. Reach integrates Translator's machine translation technology to deliver just-in-time translation results for translators and testers. The application also includes a downloadable tool that is able to insert translations into files, allowing users to have access to machine translation when working offline. "The MS Translator API was a straightforward way for us to quickly add valuable machine translation [MT] results to multiple stages of our localization workflow. The MS Translator service handles large translation volumes without any problem and can be easily customized to use different MT domains." - Andrew, Program Manager II, Localization Tools and Services
Read more Translator Solutions in Action at www.aka.ms/TranslatorSolutionsInAction
Today, Skype Translator introduces speech-to-speech translation for French and German. Skype Translator users can now make translated calls in near real time in 6 different languages: Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Additionally, Skype Translator can be used to IM in all 50 languages supported by Microsoft Translator. If you have Windows 8 or above, you can download Skype Translator to try them out for yourself at www.skype.com/translator. Don't forget that you only need to have Skype Translator installed on your computer to make a call-- your friends and family can receive translated calls on almost any device running Skype. In the time since Skype Translator launched, it has connected people throughout the world and helped break down the communication barriers that separate us. In Latin America, the organization Pro Mujer uses Skype Translator to provide low income women in Latin America with vital financial, health, and human development services-- helping them to become financially independent, healthy, and leaders in their communities. In China, it has helped foreign nationals work and converse. Using speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies, Skype Translator has proved to not only bridge the language gap, but the accessibility gap as well. Our team has found that Skype Translator can be a new and powerful communication tool for the deaf and hard of hearing. Watch the video below to see how it has already been used by one of our colleagues in a very personal and meaningful way. To learn how to set up the accessibility features in Skype Translator, click on your preferred language below:
Read more about these updates on the Skype blog . Learn More about Skype Translator:
Our friends over in Live Search featured Microsoft Translator in their MIX09 blog post - check it out!
This is the year of machine learning and big data. Whether it is predicting political results, supercharging your Excel spreadsheets, helping map queries to intent in Search, or even customizing a translation engine to best fit your content – these research areas are playing a starring role in transforming technology and productivity.
A couple of weeks back, at the 14th annual Computing in the 21st Century Conference, attendees saw a glimpse of where else these technologies are taking us – and loved it. Rick Rashid, who heads up Microsoft Research worldwide, went up on stage and in the span of eight sentences, got the 2000+ strong crowd up on their feet and cheering. It was a moment where technology was indistinguishable from magic – and one that would spur science fiction writers to start thinking of bigger challenges for researchers to tackle :)
Watch the video to see for yourself:
A combination of powerful technologies were employed to make this amazing demonstration possible: Deep Neural Network based processing combined with high performance computing allowed a significant jump in accuracy of speech recognition. The Microsoft Translator technology that you use each day was customized to best fit Rick’s speech content. New speech synthesis technology that allows personalization of acoustic characteristics was able to create “Rick’s voice” in a language he does not speak. You can read Rick’s blog post here.
Some of these technologies are already available today, especially the industry-leading translation (Microsoft Translator) with customization capabilities (Translator Hub). If you are a Windows Phone user, you have been enjoying the most innovative translation app on any phone for over a year now, which includes an early speech translation experience that has been tuned for travel situations. The audio output that you hear on Bing Translator website uses some of the newer speech synthesis engines coming out of our Speech research. Deep-Neural-Net research is also behind our audio/video indexing service – MAVIS, which is available commercially.
The excitement that has been rippling across the web in response to this demonstration is an indicator of how much everyone wants to experience this ‘magic’. There is much work to do, but you will see the benefits of this amazing research in our products in our future releases.
Vikram Dendi Director Microsoft/Bing Translator & Microsoft Research